Have Students Become Bored with Climate Activism?

Harvard University

Harvard University Elizabeth Cary Agassiz House. By Daderot (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

An attendee at the Harvard University event “Hope and Despair: Communicating an Uncertain Future” expressed concern about how few undergrads bothered to attend their climate doomsday event.

Climate Change Panel Talks ‘Hope and Despair’


Climate change researchers, professors, and journalists debated how best to present the severity of climate change to the public Wednesday evening at an event hosted by the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

The discussion, titled “Hope and Despair: Communicating an Uncertain Future,” was held in the Geological Lecture Hall. Elizabeth M. Wolkovich, an assistant professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, moderated a discussion about how to best motivate the public to take action on climate change.

David Wallace-Wells, who is the deputy editor of the New York Magazine and wrote the article “The Uninhabitable Earth” this year, advocated the use of fear about the planet’s future as a way to inspire more people to become “climate agents.”

“I think that there is real value in scaring people,” Wallace-Wells said. “When I talk to colleagues it just seems so obvious to me that when you think about the relatively well-off Western world, that complacency about climate is just a much bigger problem than fatalism about climate.”

Henry G. Scott ’18, who attended the event and is writing a thesis on how humans have historically impacted the environment, said that he enjoyed the panel but was bothered by how few undergraduates attended the event.

“When I first sat down, I was kind of looking around and noticing how few undergrads were present, which kind of built into my preconceived idea that this isn’t something that we’re aware of or we’re concerned enough about as a student body,” he said.

Read more: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/11/30/climate-change-panel-debates/

Obviously one event isn’t much of a sample; for all I know it was half price beer at the student bar that night. But it is inevitable that the climate movement will fall out of fashion. Being a student rebel, occupying Wall Street, trying to bring down the system to save the world, all seems kindof exciting; until the “rebels” realise their parents are camped out in the tent next door to them.

90 thoughts on “Have Students Become Bored with Climate Activism?

    • I see as a reason that these children have noticed two things: “The daily lie about the climate give us God” and that the climate alarmists themselves are part of the establishment with dancing congresses around the world.

      • I think you and dudleyhorscroft are correct. Also I would like to give some credit where credit is due. Scientists like Roy Spencer, Christy, Easterbrook, Willie Soon, Anthony Watts and so many others for getting the word and the science out there to people like me. I never trusted politicians but growing up I always believed you could trust scientist as their goal is to learn the truth, the actual science and only after vigorous testing of a theory do they release it to the public; at least that is what I was taught. I made As in all my science classes in College and love science and all my professors where honest wonderful mentors. That was 15 years ago I guess things have changed; how sad. After several people around me ( my husband and yes even my kids ages 14 and 16) said agw was a lie; did i start to research it my self and wow what i learned. Keep it up; it is making a difference. It was sad to learn some scientists use science like a pimp uses a hooker to make money. They dress it up, abuse it and throw it out there to make money.

      • MReed
        What a briliant simile, best I’ve seen in a long time:
        “some scientists use science like a pimp uses a hooker to make money. They dress it up, abuse it and throw it out there to make money.”

        Only way I’d change that, and I do plan to repeat it is to slightly shorten it to:
        Some scientists use science like a pimp uses a hooker, they dress it up, abuse it and throw it out there to make money.

      • I don’t agree with either one…
        I think they’ve just moved on to something more fun…..and socially justiced
        Antifa, BLM, etc is a lot more exciting…gets them more attention

        …and the new wave fits better into the disruption that Soros, etc pays for and wants

      • We’re in a world of short attention spans and instant gratification. I think they are more bored with it than educated about it.

        The Green Blob needs to start Tweeting some new and more relevant threats to regain their attention – perhaps the catastrophic impact of the warming on Iphones or how the melting ice will cause student debt to rise. Or whatever. And maybe time to replace Al Gore with Justin Beiber or Kim Kardashian.

    • It would be nice to think that people have realised that the science is wrong. Though I suspect there are two other issues at play:

      1 – supporting ‘climate change’ protests is supporting BIG multi-national business
      2 – attacking individual celebrities for not saying the right thing in the right order about LGBTRHWITSEHJs* is much more fun…

      * No, I don’t know what it means either…

    • Maybe they were just hiding away in a ‘safe space’ to avoid hearing things that might upset them …..

    • Perhaps a good dose of paying rent, buying groceries and trying to find a way to earn a steady living income is a great way to move from fantasy beliefs about saving the world to the reality of living in a world which demands effort and reason.

      • That was a much sound argument. To earn a life, find a job, pay the rent, the electricity bill, those are real problems. Climate change is like a Snow White tale or Little Red Riding Hood.

    • Plus, they should have known that Hellfire and Brimstone routines can bring in the crowds and the money that comes with them as long as they’re fresh; but sooner or later people always get tired of them, because the story never changes, and Hellfire is always On The Way but never quite arrives.

  1. This bit speaks volumes…

    “I think that there is real value in scaring people,” Wallace-Wells said. “When I talk to colleagues it just seems so obvious to me that when you think about the relatively well-off Western world, that complacency about climate is just a much bigger problem than fatalism about climate.”

    IOW he says. “I’m rich, I get a kick out of scaring people and you’re complacent”

    Just where do you start…………………..

    • “I think that there is real value in scaring people,” Wallace-Wells said.”

      I think this is their problem. The Alarmists have “Cried Wolf” over the climate too many times, and nothing ever happens, so it is natural that people would stop paying attention when they sound the next alarm.

      Reality is not cooperating with the Alarmist narrative.

      • They might gain a little more traction if a few of the horrors they constantly predict would actually come true! The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results…well if the shoe fits….


  2. Considering the damage SJWs have done to colleges and universities across the US the past few years, he ought to consider himself lucky there’s anyone left to show up.

  3. Boredom.

    Most students have the attention span of a goldfish, nor do they, like the rest of us, want to hear a constant barrage of fear and calamity. They are the same as us when we were young, they would far rather drink beer, chase women/men and go to the beach/McDonalds/bowling alley/undertakers than suffer a stuck record regurgitating the same old brainwashing message.

    A far more inspiring idea, and possibly it’s just the right time for it, is for a generous philanthropist to book the same hall for WUWT, and for Ant, Eric, David et al to give a positive presentation of the opportunities facing us in the event of a warming the planet. And of course, the real problem of a cooling planet, human induced (even if that were possible) or otherwise.

    • I’d love to see it happen, but would point out that a recent event featuring a climate skeptic got shouted / closed down.

    • HotScot: “…they would far rather … go to the beach/McDonalds/bowling alley/undertakers…”

      Undertakers? Hopefully they’re not ready for that yet!

  4. Proselytizing turns most people off, IMO because they subconsciously know they’re being “worked” to get something from them.

  5. Henry G. Scott says that he was ‘kind of looking around’ and ‘kind of built’.
    Surely he was either looking around or he wasn’t, and something had been ‘additionally built’ into his preconceived ideas or it hadn’t.
    It certainly appears that his vocabulary is lacking.
    ‘Kind of” and ‘like’ are meaningless ‘fillers’ used in sentences far too much these days.
    A return to clear spoken English would be welcome indeed!

      • I like that. Not all hope is lost. All millennials aren’t like that. /pol/ is basically a millennial phenomenon.

      • The Millennials are born before 2000. A new generation is at hand that is unlike the Millennials.

        Colleges and universities are transitioning to Generation Z, as in Generation Zombie. The term is quite appropriate. The GenZ’ers are walking dead, as in very apathetic. The High School teachers and principals have been dealing with the apathetic Generation Zombie for 4 years now. That the older college activists are just having issues getting the younger Gen Z members hyped up is because the Gen Z’ers grew up where everything was hyped.

        No telling how this will turn out. The Millennials aren’t known for the hard work and industry. The Millennials are giving the US military and national security agencies fits because the non-disclosure agreements for classified (NDA’s) they sign don’t really seem to matter to them. Many millennials seem to think adhering to NDA’s are optional if they feel like breaking it.

        How the Gen Zombies will handle adult responsibility is likely to be worse with even more apathy.

      • I’m far past being a “millennial” but I was young and dumb once. (The first time I was eligible to vote, I was going to vote for McGovern! Didn’t know I supposed to register first. Glad I was dumb.)

    • ” clear spoken english” INDEED!
      An older man went to a job interview;
      INTERVIEWER; “What us your greatest liability as an employee?”
      OLDER MAN; “I am much to honest.”
      INTERVIEWER; ” I do not consider honesty to be a liability.”
      OLDER MAN; ” I do not give a rats ass what you think”

      • INTERVIEWER: I really like your honesty and locution. However, your two misspelled pronunciations are really offensive

  6. Two thoughts: 1. Vilifying whites as poison is more exciting than lamenting lost snow. 2. “…which kind of built into my preconceived idea” — the English language is doomed.

    • 1. Microaggression.
      2. Everyone gets a trophy/A+ for being “great”.
      3. There is no right or wrong way.

      • Recently read about a teacher who passes kids for spelling spider “spydor” because they tried. And now they don’t teach cursive except how to write their names.

        Lord help us.

  7. David Wallace-Wells, who is the deputy editor of the New York Magazine and wrote the article “The Uninhabitable Earth” this year, advocated the use of fear about the planet’s future as a way to inspire more people to become “climate agents.”

    That makes perfect sense – within propaganda.

    That perspective is perfectly in line with Scott Adams book:
Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter (p. 99). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

    «Some forms of persuasion are stronger than others. Here I am talking about the broad categories of persuasion and not the specific tools. Below I rank for you the broad forms of persuasion by their relative power. The strongest are at the top. Notice that the emotional topics near the top are stronger than the more “rational” ones at the bottom. This is based entirely on my own experience as a persuader. The persuasion stack isn’t science, so I recommend viewing it as directional.

    Big fear – Identity – Smaller fear – Aspirations – Habit – Analogies – Reason – Hypocrisy – Word-thinking»

  8. Henry G. Scott ’18, who attended the event and is writing a thesis on how humans have historically impacted the environment…

    According to LinkedIn, he’s a history major and “research assistant” in numerous liberal and environmental causes… Color me schocked.

    • I wonder if his thesis will start with Adam (garden, tree, fruit), move on to Noah (boat, animals), Moses (burning bush, hitting rocks), and eventually getting to Elon (rare earths)?

  9. Until they make these dry lectures more fun….this is what they can expect.
    A pipeline demo, Antifa demonstration, BLM riot…is where it’s at
    …even carrying a mattress around campus has more drama

    Sceaming, yelling…acting up and throwing things is where it’s at

  10. The Climateers go back and forth on whether it is better to frighten people, or to give them hope that changing that lightbulb and recycling that plastic bottle will help “save the planet”. Good propaganda does both which is what they’ve been doing, but lying to people eventually fails, and that is what’s happening now. It is hilarious to watch them agonize over which is better, and moaning and groaning about why “the message” still isn’t getting through.

  11. Hope and Despair: Communicating an Uncertain Future

    If a student learns only one thing, it should be that the future is uncertain. It’s amazing how many people think the world can go on just like it is right now.

    One of the advantages of education is supposed to be that it allows you to cope with change. I really haven’t seen any evidence of that. If anything, it seems that higher education, these days, is aimed at providing safe spaces and thereby preventing students from learning how to cope with the real world.

    • Yes Bob you have pointed out the oddity. The young people want a “safe place” . But for many of them the “safe place” is the unreal, unsafe world of hurricanes and threatening storms and boiling oceans. To them the “unsafe place” is the real, safe , world of milder, gentler winters , fewer cyclones , no actual increase in sea level rise and a thriving polar bear population.
      I think that we need the assistance of professional psychologists and psychiatrists to explain this paradox.

  12. “…inspire more people to become “climate agents.” WTF is a “climate agent”? Climate stormtroopers?

  13. Perhaps #ClimateActivism™ no longer provides enough attention for their Daddy-issue narcissism, since that particular globalcrisismergency doesn’t seem to have a bright (i.e., taxpayer-funded) future anymore, for some reason, and most of the PRopaganda funds have dried up.

  14. There is a thing that happens when you scare people too much. They withdraw. It’s human nature. In addition, the Climateers have made the mistake of telling people it is too late. Well, if it is too late then why worry about it at all?

  15. So they decided that a meeting urging people to greater action, and is attended by
    global warming enthusiasts has some purpose? Who’s there that needs convincing?
    It’s pretty elitist to believe that Harvard student opinions have great value in the outside world.

  16. So they ARE merchant of fear, after all, from their own admission.
    The truth is, fear is indeed a better seller than doubt.
    You’ll find lots of horror movies, i still have a single one that i could call a doubt movie.

  17. It is possible that identity politics, post-modernism and ‘social justice’ is phagocytosing environmentalism.

    Looking at campus controversies these last few years, I have noticed none concerned with ‘the planet’ but lots about feelings and (sometimes imaginary) power struggles.

  18. Back in the day it used to be “Ban the Bomb” demos, today it’s “Climate Change”. Same, same. No real or lasting effect, just a distraction from the true difficulties like why am I paying so much tax.

    • There are only two types of people in the world:

      1. Leave me alone
      2. Pay for me

      Guess who’s who in the whole climate domain.

      • Actually PiperPaul, it is my understanding that there are three types of people in the world: (1) Those who make things happen, (2) those who watch things happen, and (3) those who wonder what happened.

        Climate alarmists are probably type 1…using fear, bad science, and making false prophetic statements to force action on a non-problem. Me? I’m type two–I watch things happen.

  19. Watching a CAGW supporters agonizing about the doomsday of “the message” not getting accepted ….. priceless.

  20. From my experience, the smart kids with science-engineering background have figured out the science is “not settled” and the High Priests of Climate Hysteria operate in bad faith. Others are generally skeptical of the media hard sell and smell propaganda.

    The rest are oblivious about everything or too preoccupied with basic survival.

    • The hard sell and propaganda is entirely supported by IPCC climate models.

      I’m hoping AR6 is models’ last hurrah.

  21. So they’ve gone from “Hope and Change” to “Hope and Despair”. How sad. I guess that Hopey-Changey thing just didn’t work out.

  22. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a bore” Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals #7. I think 30 years is too long for climate change hysteria.

  23. The parents have become bored for sure and the students are easily distracted. That leaves staff and programs out of date for messaging, priorities, and time allocation.

  24. I think the point is: the world is changing so fast now, they don’t have time to catch up with the new new NEW thinking…so hey, lets just have some beer and play a video game.

    Seriously, when Buzzfeed goes under (sometime next month), most of them won’t have any knowledge that doesn’t come from listicles.

  25. I think they are moving on now with real jobs, new home purchases, and other activities that appeared stunted or delayed over the past eight years.

  26. Maybe some of these college students have been hearing scare stories of “OMG, carbon dioxide is going to cook the planet and flood the cities” since they have learned to talk, and have noticed that it still snows at Hahvid every winter, and the weather and sea level haven’t changed much over their lifetime, so they’ve become blase’ and will maybe worry about it when they get older.

  27. Well, it’s like anything – the new generation isn’t that interested in the previous generation’s hang-ups and we’re about thirty years in, or so.
    It’s just SO last season.

      • “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to 21 I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” (Mark Twain)

        I guess kids generally matured sooner in his day than in ours.

      • I was about that age when I got the best advice from my older cousin: “LISTEN to your parents. You wouldn’t believe how smart they are. And they’re also the only ones really looking out for you.”

  28. Some people might be forgiven for wondering what science a “Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology” studies that is not encompassed by traditional biology departments.

    That the subject moderated is “a discussion about how to best motivate the public to take action on climate change” indicates that their discipline is probably politics or sociology, and that they are not actually interested in any branch of science at all.

  29. I must be careful how I read things at speed as I first got a very odd idea of this department at the university.

    Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology,

    I’ll say no more but it did make me laugh when I read it!

    James Bull

  30. Don’t recall if it was here, but there was a piece about a study, the results of which showed millennials were not big on recycling personally because their individual contributions would be too small to make a difference. They felt someone else needed to do the heavy lifting. Aside from short attention spans, they may be losing interest here because they don’t think their individual contributions to fixing the “problem” matter. It’s for someone else (government) to do.

    And as not a one of them has ever actually changed their habits anyway, maybe they are subconsciously acknowledging the fact.

  31. They met a few of the dragon slayer types who mock them to their faces for their leadership not even being able to calculate the temperature of Earth’s global atmsophere right. And for claiming a cold nitrogen bath is a giant heater.
    Students being mocked for not understanding what a Conservation of Energy violation is, don’t last long in the science darkening business.

    It takes professionals to darken science to the degree the modern Climate Sheiss’ters have.

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